Japanese Policy Toward Dokdo Before and During the Russo-Japanese War
In early April of 2010 various Korean media sources presented a Japanese map said to show Dokdo – Takeshima Island as Korean territory. Published by the Japanese Army and Navy’s Survey Departments, this chart was unveiled by Yeong Nam University’s Dokdo Research Center located in Daegu, South Korea. Apparently it was discovered by a map collector named Mr. Ryu Seong Ha in Japan. It was then presented to Yeong Nam University after being thoroughly examined. Below are some close-up images of this important chart and some historical context as well.
“Why did the Japanese government draw this map ..?”
On February 8th 1904, the Japanese Imperial Army landed in Chemulpo (today’s Incheon). The map displayed here was produced in preparation for Japan’s invasion of Port Arthur and the Korean peninsula itself. The most important features are the boundary lines showing the territorial limits of Korea and Japan most notably the waters adjacent to Ulleungdo and Dokdo Island.
Below left is the chart in its entirety. There is an overall map showing Asia and Africa boxed in red. Also the Ulleungdo-Dokdo region is highlighted by a blue box. Below right is an enlarged portion that gives a close-up view of Korea’s East coast, the East Sea (Sea of Japan) and Japan’s West coast including Oki Islands.
On the map’s lower right can be seen a legend that explains the symbols on chart. On the legend the boundary of Korea is shown as “朝鮮界” and depicted as a dash and a dot (_ . _) on the map itself. On the legend, Japan’s territorial limits are labeled as “日本界” and the chart has them drawn as a dash and two dots (_.._) Note that Ulleungdo Island (竹島) and Dokdo (松島) are located within Korea’s land.
“This was an official map published by the Japanese government…”
Looking at this chart’s upper left corner we can read the Kanji characters “帝國陸海測量部編纂” these characters can be translated as “The Japanese Empire’s Army and Navy Survey Department Compiled and Published. From this we know this chart represented the territorial perceptions of the Japanese government. This would mean Japan considered both Ulleungdo and Dokdo as part of Chosun (朝鮮) Korea in 1903.
Above left: An overall image of the entire 1903 Japanese Map, with Ulleungdo and Dokdo boxed in blue. Above right: A close-up of the Ulleungdo (竹島) and Dokdo (松島) region. Note the boundary of Japan (日本界) drawn East of Dokdo putting the islets within Korea’s territory. (朝鮮界) .
This map shows Ulleungdo and Dokdo with the location of Seibold’s positioning (see link). We may also notice no other islands East of Dokdo are shown on Japanese territory. Chosun’s limits are drawn as to extend far East beyond so it’s only possible to interpret this map to mean Ulleungdo and Dokdo were Korean.
Above left: This image shows a close-up of the map’s legend. The boundary of Korea is shown as “朝鮮界” and depicted as a dash and a dot (_ . _) Japan’s territorial limits are labeled as “日本界” and drawn as a dash and two dots (_.._) Above center, the map’s left side has the date drawn as October 21st 1903 (36th Year of Meiji), about two months before Japan invaded Korea. Above right: Japanese Kanji characters indicate this map was a Japanese government map as the title states “帝國陸海測量部編纂” meaning The Japanese Empire’s Army and Navy Survey Department Compiled and Published. (click maps for larger images)
Japan Military Prepares to Seize Dokdo Island, A Japanese Navy Map From January 1st 1905
During the Russo-Japanese War the Japanese prepared for the battle in the East Sea (Sea of Japan) between Russia’s Baltic Fleet and the Japanese Navy (see link). Japan’s policy would change after Japanese troops occupied the Korean mainland. Immediately the Japanese Navy mapped all of Korea’s coastal areas and islands of strategic importance and constructed military facilities on them.
The map below is an original Japanese Imperial Navy map of the East Sea (Sea of Japan) It is dated the 38th year of Meiji January 1st (1905). The map is tilted showing South~North as left~right respectively. It has been labeled in red English for reference. This chart shows how the Japanese Imperial Navy mapped, zoned and then assigned certain naval regiments to each area of the Sea of Japan to engage Russia’s Baltic Fleet. Dokdo Island would be annexed only weeks after this map was published. (click map for larger image)
The above image is an original Japanese Naval map showing how Korea’s adjacent waters and islands were incorporated into Japan’s war plan during the Russo Japanese War 1904~1905. Only months later, the Japanese Imperial Navy would massacre Russia’s Baltic Fleet in the waters surrounding Korea’s Ulleungdo and Dokdo Island.
The 1903 Japanese Map and Dokdo – A Conclusion
The two maps above illustrate Japan’s policy toward Ulleungdo and Dokdo before and after Japan forcibly annexed the islands in 1905. The first map is in line with Japan’s historical relationship with the islands. Although Japanese individuals trespassed on both Ulleungdo and Dokdo, the Japanese government conceded the islands were Chosun territory numerous times in history.
The second map shows Japan’s military agenda for Liancourt Rocks (Dokdo) in the weeks prior to her annexation of Dokdo. ( Dokdo and Japan’s Imperial Navy) This map represents a shift in Japanese policy toward not only Dokdo but Ulleungdo Island, and the nation of Korea itself. As this website demonstrates repeatedly, Japanese military aggression toward Korea and her annexation of Dokdo are historically inseparable.
“Special thanks to…”
Dokdo-Takeshima.com would like to express our thanks to the staff of Yeongnam University for donating the 1903 Japanese Map images. We would also like to congratulate Mr Ryu Seong Ha for finding this invaluable historical map, a critical piece of data which shows Japanese claims to Dokdo Takeshima Island are false.